New state licensing laws to curb bikies' control of tattoo parlours

BIKIES and their criminal associates will no longer run tattoo parlours under a new licensing system starting on Friday that will see massive fines and stringent police checks.

The Minister for Police, Michael Gallacher, and the Minister for Fair Trading, Anthony Roberts, announced new regulations for tattooists in efforts to reduce criminality in an industry they say is rife with ''shonky businesses''.

NSW police and the government want the tougher penalties to end the number of drive-by shootings, fire bombings and violence that has flared-up at numerous tattoo parlours linked to bikie groups such as the Comancheros, Hells Angels and Nomads.

From Friday, tattoo parlour owners must apply for a $2000 three-year licence, with all body art tattoo artists and individuals each paying, or the company faces an $11,000 fine plus $11,000 a day fines when the laws come in force in October.

Unlicensed individual tattoo artists will receive a one-off $5500 fine and $11,000 fines for any further offences.

Mr Gallacher said the measures will stop outlawed motorcycle gangs using tattoo parlours as fronts for illegal activities.

''This important reform will reduce the level of violent crime associated with tattoo parlours and significantly boost the power of NSW police to target criminal operations,'' he said.

The Acting Police Commissioner, Nick Kaldas, described the new measures as similar to the crackdown on the security industry and said police would weed out ''cleanskins'' who front bikie-run operations.

Those that register will have a full police criminal check. The Commissioner of Police, Andrew Scipione, will then decide whether the applicant is a fit and proper person. But industry figures and the opposition have scoffed at the measures.

The manager of the Kaleidoscope tattoo shop, Julian De-Sa, said they had been trading in Bondi for 17 years and never had any trouble. ''The state is accepting a stereotype which is unfair. The presumption of innocence should be first,'' he said.

The Opposition Leader, John Robertson, said the focus should be on banning bikie gangs not tattoo parlours.

Barrister Wayne Baffsky, who represented the Hells Angels in a successful High Court challenge against anti-bikie laws, said it was ''a very nasty piece of legislation that will hurt many innocent people''.

This story New state licensing laws to curb bikies' control of tattoo parlours first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.